Various studies have shown that people with a higher intellectual coefficient (IQ) are more likely to consume cannabis. Maybe these subjects have a higher predisposition to try new things and live new experiences, or maybe they are more able to distinguish between what is good and what is bad. In this article we will review some of the studies that have reached these conclusions over the years
The 70s generation: better grades, higher cannabis use
The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health published an investigation in 2011, taking a sample of 7900 Britons (3.818 men and 4128 women) born at the start of April 1970. The researchers measured the IQ of the participants when they were between 5 and 10 years old, and then again between 16 - 30. Although the questionnaire was general and covered many questions, it also asked them about psychological distress and the use of drugs
At approximately 30 years old, 35% of the men and 16% of the women has used cannabis at least once in the previous year. Those that had used drugs, got higher grades in the IQ tests than those that had not. This remained the same, even when the results were adjusted to take into account socioeconomic level, education and psychological distress; factors which also correlate with the rates of drug use. The principal author of this study, James White, DECIPHer (Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Public Health Interventions) at the university of Cardiff, in Wales, admitted that these were not the results they expected to find.
What then would be the reason why the smartest children were more likely to try drugs? One possible answer is “"people with a high IQ are more likely to get high scores on the personality scale for openness to experience and may be more willing to experiment and seek novel experiences," James White said.
Another result from the study related to people with a high IQ with an active lifestyle and balanced diet. According to White, their decisions regarding diet and exercise are healthier. In addition, they do not usually smoke tobacco cigarettes, which is why he stated that "they are more likely to see that smoking cannabis relatively infrequently does not have a big impact."
However, this study did not take into account the risk of addiction amongst people with a high IQ as it was not able to measure the frequency of drug use amongst participants. Another argument is that people with high abilities experience isolation from a young age and look for new stimulation and reward in substances like cannabis to help them to overcome boredom and apathy. What he did find was a connection between higher IQ and and a high risk of alcohol abuse and dependency.
2017 and a study of youth aged 11 to 20
A study more recently published in the medical BMJ journal in 2017 looked at 6000 students from private and state schools from all over England. The study started monitoring the young people at 11 and continued until the were 20. The results were that the most intelligent adolescents drank and smoked cannabis at a higher rate, though they had a lower risk of smoking tobacco
These associations continued into early adulthood, soe the hypothesis that high academic ability was associated with early experimentation broke down. The authors of the study speculated on underlying causes, that maybe higher IQ children had older friends who might have introduced them to the substances, which the children then took due to a need to be accepted. They also considered the fact that possibly high IQ children were more able to be honest about their behaviour.
News and Unresolved Conclusions
The study revealed a surprising difference from that of 2011 which was that the students with a brilliant academic career - higher than the average - hadn't had the same chance to consume cannabis at 16 years old. If the subjects were between 18 and 20 the likelihood increased. If the students with the worse grades were 16, the likelihood also increased. The research considered that many of them had not had regular access to cannabis until they reached adulthood.
Although this study eradicated the prejudice that linked poor grades with cannabis use, it was not clear why students with the lowest IQ were less likely to consume cannabis. One theory is that maybe they had were less interested in experimentation. Be that as it may, to advance the results, the researchers have stated future studies will concentrate on adolescents with a lower IQ and why they are less likely to consume cannabis.
Myths: smoking cannabis lowers your IQ
There are many myths on the net about the consumption of cannabis. Unfortunately the prohibition and taboo that are linked to certain substances brings many misunderstandings. In January 2016 a study was carried out with identical twins. This experiment was divided into two studies. One group followed 789 pairs of twins, and the other 2279. The subjects were studied over 10 years and at the end an IQ test was conducted. The study found no differences between the cannabis smokers and the non cannabis smokers.
So it seems there is still much to be learnt. Many consider the cannabis plant an indispensable ally in the creative process, but science still has many questions to answer. We bet that legalisation would end the stigma associated with the plant and shed much light on the unsolved mysteries.